You pick up the mail and there's a postcard warning your car's warranty is about to expire. It urges you to call a toll-free number to renew it. But be careful - these warnings are often just a clever scam.
"These offers target seniors and other car owners with post cards and phone calls that sound urgent," said North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, whose office is investigating the post cards and calls. "They want to pressure you into buying an expensive car warranty. Don't let a high-pressure sales pitch talk you into something you don't want or need."
In the past month, Cooper's office has averaged around thirty calls a week from consumers who've received these post cards in the mail or calls on the phone urging them to renew their car warranties before they expire.
Since May, a total of 25 North Carolina consumers have filed written complaints with Cooper's Consumer Protection Division about the pitches. Many of these consumers got pre-recorded phone messages, mailings, or both asking them to purchase an extended warranty. The solicitations have especially targeted seniors.
The post cards and phone messages include phrases like "motor vehicle notification," "final notice" or "priority level: high" in large letters to make the offer seem urgent.
When consumers who receive one of the phone messages or post cards respond by calling the number listed, they are pressured to buy an expensive extended warranty for their car.
Callers are told they must make a down payment before they can get information about the warranty. Cooper offered consumers the following tips:
- Beware of mailings that appear to come from your automobile manufacturer offering extended warrantycoverage.
- Beware of pre-recorded phone calls. In North Carolina, it's illegal for telemarketers to use pre-recorded messages unless a live person first asks you if you want to listen to the recording.
- Never give out personal financial information like your bank account number or Social Security Number over the phone.
- Check to see if you already have a car warranty, or if your warranty has already expired. Many of the consumers who've gotten these offers say their car warranties expired long ago.
- When considering an extended warranty, always get information in writing before you agree to sign up or pay any money.
- Check out a business with your state Attorney General's Office and your local Better Business Bureau before you agree to do business with them.